Posted by William Nunnelley on 2006-11-13

Two Samford professors were awarded a grant of $219,825 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to purchase chemical instrumentation that will further their research programs.

Biology professor Ron Jenkins and chemistry associate professor Brian Gregory will use the grant to acquire a liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC-MS) for Samford. The spectrometer is used to separate the components of complex mixtures in solution and to identify molecular components by their masses.

The grant was awarded through NSF's Major Research Instrumentation program, which is designed so that researchers can acquire high quality equipment to pursue research.

Drs. Jenkins and Gregory will use the spectrometer in their research, which will give Samford biology and chemistry students hands-on experience with additional state-of-the-art chemical instrumentation. The spectrometer will be used to identify and quantify various chemical systems, including those of environmental interest.

"This instrument is the most sensitive and most accurate way to measure herbicides, pesticides or most all pharmaceuticals either in the environment or in the blood of a patient," Jenkins said.

Jenkins will continue his studies of endocrine disruptors in effluent discharged by paper mills into streams. Jenkins already has discovered that such effluent is producing masculine characteristics in female mosquitofish and other wildlife.

Gregory will use the mass spectrometer to measure the relative proportions of different types of alkanethiols that absorb, or stick, to metal surfaces during the formation of single molecular layers on metals such as gold.

"Single molecular layers of this type are finding use in corrosion prevention and wear protection of metal surfaces and in microlithographic applications in the semiconductor industry," said Gregory.

Jenkins is associate director of the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education at Samford. He served as principal investigator for the grant proposal and Gregory served as co-principal investigator.